The Mahabharata Home
"Dhritarashtra said, 'Tell me what may be done by a person that is sleepless and burning with anxieties, for thou alone amongst us, O child, art versed in both religion and profit. Advise me wisely, O Vidura. O thou of magnanimous heart, tell me what is thou deemest to be beneficial for Ajatasatru and what is productive of good to the Kurus. Apprehending future evils. I look back only on my previous guilt: I ask thee with anxious heart, O learned one, tell me what is exactly in Ajatasatru's mind,'
"Vidura said, 'Even if unasked, one should speak truly, whether his words be good or bad, hateful or pleasing, unto him whose defeat one doth not wish. I shall, therefore, say, O king, what is for the good of the Kurus. I shall say what is both beneficial and consistent with morality. Listen to me. Do not, O Bharata, set the heart upon means of success that are unjust and improper. A man of intelligence must not grieve if any purpose of his doth not succeed, notwithstanding the application of fair and proper means. Before one engageth in an act, one should consider the competence of the agent, the nature of the act itself, and its purpose, for all acts are dependent on these. Considering these one should begin an act, and not take it up on a sudden impulse. He that is wise should either do an act or desist from it fully considering his own ability, the nature of the act, and the consequence also of success. The king who knoweth not proportion or measure as regards territory, gain, loss, treasury, population, and punishment, cannot retain his kingdom long. He, on the other hand, who is acquainted with the measures of these as prescribed in treatises, being necessarily possessed of the knowledge of religion and profit, can retain his kingdom. As the stars are affected by the planets, so is this world affected by the senses, when they are directed, uncontrolled, to their respective objects. Like the moon during the lighted fortnight, calamities increase in respect of him who is vanquished by the five senses in their natural state, which ever lead him towards various acts. He who wisheth to control his counsellors before controlling his own self, or to subdue his adversaries before controlling his counsellors, at last succumbs deprived of strength. He, therefore, who first subdueth his own self regarding it as a foe, never faileth to subdue his counsellors and adversaries at last. Great prosperity waiteth upon him who hath subdued his senses, or controlled his soul, or who is capable of punishing all offenders, or who acteth with judgment or who is blessed with patience. One's body, O king, is one's car; the soul within is the driver; and the senses are its steeds. Drawn by those excellent steeds, when well-trained, he that is wise, pleasantly performeth the journey of life, and awake in peace. The horses that are unbroken and incapable of being controlled, always lead an unskilful driver to destruction in the course of the journey; so one's senses, unsubdued, lead only to destruction. The inexperienced wight, who, led by this unsubdued senses, hopeth to extract evil from good and good from evil, necessarily confoundeth misery with happiness. He, who, forsaking religion and profit, followeth the lead of his senses, loseth without delay prosperity, life, wealth and wife. He, who is the master of riches but not of his senses, certainly loseth his riches in consequence of his want of mastery over his senses. One should seek to know one's self by means of one's own self, controlling one's mind, intellect, and senses, for one's self is one's friend as, indeed, it is one's own foe. That man, who hath conquered self by means of self, hath his self for a friend, for one's self is ever one's friend or foe. Desire and anger, O king, break
through wisdom, just as a large fish breaks through a net of thin cords. He, who in this world regarding both religion and profit, seeketh to acquire the means of success, winneth happiness, possessing all he had sought. He, who, without subduing his five inner foes of mental origin, wisheth to vanquish other adversaries, is, in fact, overpowered by the latter. It is seen that many evil-minded kings, owing to want of mastery over their senses, are ruined by acts of their own, occasioned by the lust of territory. As fuel that is wet burneth with that which is dry, so a sinless man is punished equally with the sinful in consequence of constant association with the latter. Therefore, friendship with the sinful should be avoided. He that, from ignorance, faileth to control his five greedy foes, having five distinct objects, is overwhelmed by calamities. Guilelessness and simplicity, purity and contentment, sweetness of speech and self-restraint, truth and steadiness,--these are never the attributes of the wicked. Self-knowledge and steadiness, patience and devotion to virtue, competence to keep counsels and charity,--these,--O Bharata, never exist in inferior men. Fools seek to injure the wise by false reproaches and evil speeches, The consequence is, that by this they take upon themselves the sins of the wise, while the latter, freed from their sins, are forgiven. In malice lieth the strength of the wicked; in criminal code, the strength of kings, in attentions of the weak and of women; and in forgiveness that of the virtuous. To control speech, O king, is said to be most difficult. It is not easy to hold a long conversation uttering words full of meaning and delightful to the hearers. Well-spoken speech is productive of many beneficial results; and ill-spoken speech, O king, is the cause of evils. A forest pierced by arrows, or cut down by hatchets may again grow, but one's heart wounded and censured by ill-spoken words never recovereth. Weapons, such as arrows, bullets, and bearded darts, can be easily extracted from the body, but a wordy dagger plunged deep into the heart is incapable of being taken out. Wordy arrows are shot from the mouth; smitten by them one grieveth day and night. A learned man should not discharge such arrows, for do they not touch the very vitals of others. He, to whom the gods ordain defeat, hath his senses taken away, and it is for this that he stoopeth to ignoble deeds. When the intellect becometh dim and destruction is nigh, wrong, looking like right., firmly sticketh to the heart. Thou dost not clearly see it, O bull of the Bharata race, that clouded intellect hath now possessed thy sons in consequence of their hostility to the Pandavas. Endued with every auspicious mark and deserving to rule the three worlds, Yudhishthira is obedient to thy commands. Let him, O Dhritarashtra, rule the earth, to the exclusion of all thy sons, Yudhishthira is the foremost of all thy heirs. Endued with energy and wisdom, and acquainted with the truths of religion and profit, Yudhishthira, that foremost of righteous men, hath, O king of kings, suffered much misery out of kindness and sympathy, in order to preserve thy reputation."
Next: Section XXXV